What is the future of European social democracy? Your answer to that question may depend on where you live.
If you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s cooperation with the far left. Social democrats in Portugal and Spain have come to power under deals with far-left parties. In both cases, unwieldy coalitions were greeted with skepticism, but now Prime Ministers António Costa and Pedro Sánchez are riding high in the polls.
In Greece, Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party has even supplanted the center-left altogether.
In Scandinavia, by contrast, social democrats are trying to win back working-class voters by taking a harder line on borders, crime and defense.
A puff piece about Portugal’s left-wing government in The New York Times leaves out an important part of the story: the right-wing government which preceded it.
It were the liberals and conservatives who implemented the austerity measures that paved the way for the country’s economic revival.
The New York Times talks about a “humiliating” bailout that supposedly “deepened” Portugal’s misery until, in 2015, it elected the socialist António Costa, who reversed wage and pension cuts, igniting a “virtuous cycle” that put the economy back on a path to growth. Read more “New York Times Leaves Out Nuances in Portugal Story”
The formation of an all-left city government in Berlin that includes the once-communist Die Linke follows a pattern: center-left parties across Europe are increasingly willing to team up with their rivals on the far left.
Germany’s Social Democrats shunned Die Linke for decades. The two parties disagree on EU and industrial policy, NATO membership, relations with Russia and welfare.
Portugal and Spain won more time on Tuesday to bring their deficits in line with European fiscal rules as other European countries once again balked at imposing fines.
The European Commission reported last month that the two had failed to take “effective action” to bring their shortfalls under the bloc’s 3-percent deficit ceiling. But it passed the buck to the member states when it came to recommending penalties.
The commission has the power to impose financial punishments worth up to .2 percent of national economic output, which would be €300 million for Portugal and €2 billion for Spain. But it has never used that power.
It looks like Portugal and Spain might finally be sanctioned for breaking the eurozone’s budget rules.
The European Commission said on Tuesday the two had failed to take “effective action” to bring their shortfalls under the 3-percent treaty ceiling. But it stopped short of recommending fines, leaving that decision to the finance ministers.
The European Commission has let profligate member states in the south off with a warning again. Rather than fine Italy, Portugal and Spain, the executive gave all thee more time to bring their deficits in line with the bloc’s fiscal rules.
The countries have for years failed to bring their shortfalls under the European Union’s 3-percent ceiling. Yet the commission has always found an excuse not to penalize them.
Portugal’s new left-wing government avoided a standoff with the rest of the European Union on Friday when it submitted a revised budget proposal for 2016 that respects the bloc’s deficit-cutting rules.
The Southern European country came up with an extra €135 million in spending cuts, meaning it will cut its structural deficit by just over .1 percent of economic output this year. That means the EU sees Portugal as “at risk” of breaking the rules but not in violation. Read more “Portugal Makes Last-Minute Cuts to Avoid Budget Fight”
Portuguese prime minister António Costa is confident he can roll back austerity without entering into conflict with other European Union countries.
The Socialist Party leader, who governs at the head of an unprecedented left-wing coalition with the anticapitalist Left Bloc, Communists and Greens, told the Financial Times that his 2016 budget proposal, submitted to the European Commission this weekend, is “proof” that fiscal consolidation need not entail punishing austerity measures.
“The fact is that while laying the foundation for more jobs, higher growth and better social protection, this budget goes further in reducing the deficit than set out in our government program,” Costa said.